tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and John Berman CNN February 28, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PST
reinsured the white house will embrace much of the house gop plans for repealing and replacing obamacare. that is key to get them all on the same page. we'll take you to those comments live when they begin. let's start at the white house with our jone joe johns. what do we know? >> we know a few things and not so much. we know the president says he will speak from the heart. we know he says there's going to be an optimistic vision here. he's very likely to talk about tax cuts, which he says are coming, as well as the repeal and replacement of obamacare, which is something people on capitol hill, members of congress very much want to hear his vision on. and he's also likely to talk about immigration, which is another one of those issues that came to us all the way straight from the campaign. one of the big questions is whether the president will talk about russia. >> joe,
just one second. we're going to capitol hill
because paul ryan is speaking about the speech tonight and his relationship
with the president. let's listen. >> the president recognizes what we all recognize that this is a once in a generation moment. a once in a generation opportunity. we have the opportunity to finally tackle big problems that have held us back for so long. we can fix our health care system so that costs go down and choices go up. we can fix our broken tax code so that rates go down and growth goes up. we can fix our regulatory system so that it protects us instead of punishes us. and we can secure our border and rebuild our military for the 21st century. these are big positive things that we can achieve for the hard-working americans we work for by working together. that is why we are very much looking forward to having the president here this evening. it is a chance for the country to hear directly from him about our agenda and about how we intend to improve people's lives. we have a lot of work ahead of
us and we're ready and willing to seize this moment. >> good morning, and as the speaker talked about, we are looking forward to hearing the president. we look forward to hearing an optimistic approach to the future. we have lots of challenges. we have already begun that work. we'll continue with regulatory reform. getting common sense back into regulation, getting our business working again. but as we look to the future, we look to health care, tax reform. we also look to the future of the workforce because the students today, 65% of them, the jobs they will work in have not even yet existed. so we've got to look to innovation. got to look to transformation of where we go. these are all things we hope the president will talk about, that we can bound together republicans, democrats in the house and the senate to find we build a better america, united for all. >> happy mardi gras.
happy mardi gras. speaking a little french there. we look forward to welcoming president trump to address the joint session of congress tonight and share his optimistic vision of the things he's been doing to keep his promises to the american people. that's what's most refreshing about these first few weeks in office is that he's really focusod doing the things he ran on. focussing on creating jobs which every meeting that we're in with president trump, one of the first things he talks about is how can we get the economy move again, create more jobs. how can we get government out of the way and end these regulations that are killing jobs. look what he's done in a few short weeks. greenlighted the keystone pipeline creating thousands of american jobs and strengthening our national security. just a few days ooh president trump signed the stream buffer rule. and he had real coal miners along with members of congress at the bill signing ceremony.
in fact, he gave the pen to a coal miner. a bill that's going to save 70,000 jobs in the coal industry. keeping his promise to the american people. president trump when he ran for office said that he was going to focus on making america safe again. on securing the american border. and sure enough, he's already taken direct steps to carry through on those promises. just announced that he wants to increase defense spending so we have the opportunity to bolster our military so we can continue to keep america safe. of course, when he ran for office, president trump said that he was going to appoint justices to the supreme court who actually uphold the constitution. and he put a list out. a very narrow list of people who are thoroughly vetted and let the american people actually have a say in who the next supreme court justice is going to be to replace antonin scalia. sure enough in just his first few weeks in office, president trump appointed one of the people off of that list, neil
gorsuch, a justice who will truly fit the mold of antonin scalia who you can't truly replace but somebody who fits that mold and keeps to the promise that he kept that he made to the american people. >> we're going to keep monitoring this as we hear from gop house leadership. they'll take questions in a moment so you can bet you'll want to hear those live. we'll get back to that when that begins. let's go to capitol hill. sunlen serfaty is there with more news on what seems to be a coming together of the white house and gop leadership on repealing and replacing obamacare. and that they are going to be the message from the president tonight will be that they are working hand in glove. is that correct? >> that's right. and i think we saw that echoed in what speaker of the house paul ryan just said, calling this a generational moment. a chance to hear directly from the president about our agenda. emphasis there on the use of our agenda because as we've been talking about in recent days, there is some concern on capitol hill that president trump and the white house is not fully
behind the draft republican plan in the house that's coming out for repealing and replacing obamacare. we know that speaker of though the house paul ryan and mitch mccomsm mcconnell sat down with the president at the white house yesterday. our sources telling jim acosta the president will make clear he does indeed support much of the republican plan in his address later tonight here on capitol hill. and sources telling acosta that the repeal and replace strategy will focus on tax credits, high-risk pools, hsas to expand coverage. eliminating the individual mandate. notably that young people can stay on their parents' insurance until up to 26 years old and reforms to medicaid among many other issues. and this source noted that, of course, not all of this can be done in one bill. it will likely be done in multiple buckets. poppy, john? >> it's interest, sunlen because if you look at the reporting
from jim acosta at the white house, paul ryan said he was given the impression that the white house is embracing much of the republican plan. part of the problem here is there seems to be a communication gap. or at least some communication fuzziness here where the people on capitol hill, you've been watching up there, are not 100% sure what the president backs. and one of the issues is that the republicans are losing support right now from their own ranks from this plan. mark sanford, mark meadows among those who came forward and said they can't vote for it now. do you think leadership is worried about losing more republican votes? >> i think they certainly are, and i think that many of those republicans in recent days who have expressed some concern about the bill, concern about the drafts that are coming out. they want to tamp down all that rhetoric. i thought it was notable we saw paul ryan earlier today in an interview come out and basically try to rein in much of what we're hearing.
this narrative coming out of the hill and also describing that, look, this isn't a president that's going to roll up his sleeves, sit up the table and hash out every policy issue. he's someone that works much like a chairman of the business is what paul ryan says really delegating the details. to me, that was paul ryan saying, look, we are handling a lot of the details up here on the house and the white house. he believes is on board with much of what they're doing. >> or maybe he hopes the white house is on board or hopes he gets a sign that they are on board. >> a lot of psychology at play. we're joined by kayleigh mcenany, mary katharine ham and bakari sellers, cnn commentator, former democratic south carolina house member. welcome one and all. we have one eye, on capitol hill for when paul ryan takes questions. if we can, let's shift focus to tonight to the speech. mary katharine ham, 40 days into the administration right now.
what do you think the president needs to do when he speaks to congress and the american people tonight, and what do you think he will do? >> well, what he will do is always up in the air. the thing remember to about this is it may not look like a normal state of the union. this is not texically state of the union but it may not electric like that. he may break some actual news by breaking with republicans up there. he guy mmay engage with members the audience. he may spend in time congratulating himself which wouldn't be that different from the last eight years. and we should not overestimate the extent to which the american people are upset about that. >> sorry to interrupt. stick with us for a second. let's listen to the questions that the house speaker is getting. >> -- pulling out left and right, and the system is collapsing. the deductibles are skyrocketing. premium s skyrocketing, and people are left with no choices in some instance. we have an obligation to replace
it with a better system and that's what we are about doing. our whole purpose is to improve access to affordable health care coverage, regardless of whether you have a pre-existing condition or not. that is what we ran on last year. that's what we're working on this year. and that is our objective is to give people more choices to give people access to more affordable health care choices, not less affordable health care choices or no choices at all, which is the case with obamacare. >> [ inaudible ]. >> look, you'll have a lot of turning on any kind of legislative project like this. this is a plan we're all working on together, the house, senate, white house. we are all working on this together with the administration. and i would tell you, alan, we started this process not a few months ago. we started this process over a year ago. house republicans assembled a
health care task force. and any house republican who wanted to participate in that, out of that came a consensus plan that we all ran on together. it looked a lot like the price plan. the price plan was considered the conservative goals standald at the time last year. many conservatives co-sponsored that plan. that looks a lot like what we're working on right now. when it comes to tax credits, people who do not get health insurance from their job are discriminated against right now in the tax code. the current tax code discriminates against people who don't get health care at work. we want to end the discrimination against people who don't get health care and so everybody, regardless of whether you get health care at work or don't has an opportunity to get a health care plan that's affordable for you. that's what we've always been working on. that's the plan we've always been looking at, and that is what we're looking at with the
administration. when we get everything done and right, i have a feeling we'll be unified on this. manu? >> are you 100% confident there were no contacts at all between the trump campaign and russian officials during the presidential election? >> look, we have an ongoing investigation. i'm not going to get ahead of that investigation. we have seen no evidence so far based upon the investigations that have already been conducted. remember, there was an intelligence community investigation last year. the house republicans have been doing an investigation for quite a while on russia itself through the intelligence committee and we have a bipartisan investigation through the house intelligence committee. just last night they finished their oversight plan to go forward. i'm not going to get ahead of the investigation occurring right now but just so you know this has been investigated. we've been investigating it and we'll continue to investigate to make sure no stone is unturned. kasie? >> [ inaudible ]. >> i never give up a dream kasie. i'm a green bay packer fan.
so i never give up a dream. by the way, two entilements are being reformed with repeal and replace. that's two entitlements right there. just this spring. so we are well on our way to reforming entitlements by repealing and replacing obamacare. that's a pretty darn good start. thank you very much.
appreciate it. >> there you have it. the house speaker sort of dodging that last question. is he giving up, i believe, are you giving up your hope for entitlement reform with this budget? let's bring in our panel. he said he's a packer fan. >> he's won four super bowls. never give up. >> our panel is back with us. thanks for holding tight on that. kayleigh mcenany. let's remind you what paul ryan said about entitlements and how important it is in a budgetary process just last year to "the wall street journal" journal. play it.
>> do you consider it possible to arrive at a fiscal policy and plan that reduces the deficit without touching medicare and social security or military spending? >> no, you can't. it's a mathematical impossibility. if you do not tackle the drivers of our debts which are entultments, you cannot balance the budget and pay down the debt. >> you cannot do it. now he's not saying as much because the president isn't touching them in his budget. how on earth is he going to get enough republicans truly on board with him? how is he going to do it tonight in this speech? >> look, speaker paul ryan's absolutely correct when he points to these key entitlement programs as the chief drivers of our debt. this is what's so fascinating when you look at trump and the new conservatism that's come about because president trump has said i don't want to touch social security. i'm more of the populist strain, like the mike huckabee strain noft wanting to touch those entitlements. we're having to see this grand
bargain between fiscal hawks, traditional conservatives and the populist wing that president trump has brought in. and ultimately it's going to have to be a negotiation, a give and a take here and making sure all along that president trump is not giving up on the promises he made to voters on the campaign trail which is your social security will be here. so the short answer is it's a grand bargain and brump has a big task ahead. and tonight is a good starting point in this conversation with congressional republicans. >> bakari, mr. democrat, we'll get to you in a minute. right now a bit of a republican squabble. mary katharine ham, if paul ryan is about anything, the one thing he is -- >> it's like his middle name. >> social security and entitlement reform. it is his middle name. this is what he believes and has written about extensively. will he be willing to just give up to this new populism? >> i don't know if he's going to be willing to give up but we have to contend with the fact that a lot of americans like
entitlements. they don't want them touched, even if you explain, hey, if we don't touch this and fix this, it's going to be bankrupt in the very near future and it's easier to deal with that now. trump is actually employed a similar argument on obamacare where he said, look, it would be the easiest thing to give in and not change this at all and let it ride out. but it's not working and it's not going to work and it's going to be irrevocably broken if we don't fix it. i look forward to them talking about that on something like social security and medicare in the future. >> the president, bakari, the president graded himself this morning in his interview with "fox & friends." he did give himself an "a" on achievement, progress, et cetera, but he gave himself a c-plus when it comes to messaging. how he can -- how he is messaging. were you surprised to see? berman thinks that's a bit
obama-esque. i have all the right ideas but i could be better at messaging. >> if you only understood how right i am, things would be better. how do you see it, bakari? >> i think that's interesting. i think that's an ounce of humility, something we haven't seen from this president. with all due respect, the bar for donald trump is extremely low. i heard one of the members of congress laying out some of the few achievements he's had in these first couple of weeks and they just don't even parallel to what we saw in the last presidency and the presidency of barack obama. you're talking about a federal highway administration that approved 2500 projects, putting 260,000 people to work immediately. passing tax credits already. i mean, this white house has not done much other than being marred down in its own muck. and i think the irony of tonight is that congressional republicans and republican conservative activists throughout the country are looking to donald trump to lay out some policy proposals. and so donald trump has not been able to articulate clearly the
policy he wants to implement, let alone health care policy or anything nuanced. so that c-plus tonight is really going to be exacerbated and brought to the spotlight because he's going to have to communicate how he plans on eliminating an individual mandate but yet keeping people on their insurance until the age of 26 and with pre-existing conditions, something we all know is fundamentally impossible. i look forward to that c-plus kind of being examined under the light tonight. >> bakari sellers speaking out for the first time on behalf of conservative republicans and what they are looking for in this speech. kayleigh, focus on one thing in the speech tonight. you probably don't believe that the president's speeches in the past have been as distopian or dark as people have said. but where is that line? how much do his supporters want to see a more optimistic vision tonight? >> i think you're right. i disagree that his inaugural address was dark. i thought it was realistic and very uplifting and good.
but it is interesting as you pointed out that the president gave himself a c-plus. it's like he's acknowledging i've broken through to my supporters, people like me, people who turned out and voted for him but maybe i haven't broken through to those middle 30% of individuals curious about president trump but haven't quite heard what they want to hear. tonight when he talks about a more optimistic tone. he mentioned it in the talking points provided to, i believe, abc, he wants to talk about working parents and access to education. these are things a lot of times are lost in the mix when talking about immigration and some of the proposals that have gotten more heat or attention. if he focuses on those proposals, the ones i think cross party lines and can create a bridge to the other side, it will be a home run. >> all right. he did say i'm going to get this "c" up maybe tonight. >> extra homework? >> guys, thank you. thanks for sticking around. kayleigh mcenany, mary katharine
ham and bakari sellers. still ahead, the president's special guests, what they tell us about what's in store for the speech tonight. more than 100 retired generals have a message for the white house. do not cut funding for the state department. stay with us. never waver. ♪ because going around is rarely ever as enjoyable... ...as going right through. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ of bad breath germs% for a 100% fresh mouth. feeling 100% means you feel bold enough to... ...assist a magician... ...or dance. listerine®. bring out the bold™
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at this very moment, the president putting the final touches on his speech tonight. the first primetime address before congress. aides tell us they think it will be an optimistic address on the country's future focusing largely on national security and economic issues. but you can bet his immigration proposal will also factor in. one of the big clues is his guest list. >> who he is bringing. half of the special invitees of
the first family are people left scarred by illegal immigration. one guest is the father of a teenager killed by an undocumented immigrant. two others, the widows of police officers allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant as well. texas congressman monvilla of texas joins us now. he's clashed with the president over his immigration policies. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> you did not attend the inauguration. i assume you'll be there tonight. two-part question. why then go tonight, and who will you be bringing with you? >> tonight i have a very special guest. it's restaurant owner jose andreas who had his restaurant in the trump hotel and now has a dispute with the president. so tonight we stand here to listen to the president and hopefully are hoping that we'll see a redirection in the president's rhetoric with respect to our relationship with
mexico and with respect to his abominable deportation policies. >> you say you're going to listen to the president but clearly you're going to send a message to the president baseod your guest. you are bringing someone in direct conflict with the president. what message do you want to send with that? >> well, you know, under president obama, he prioritized the deportation of felon s and those who committed misdemeanors. president trump has shifted the deportation policies. now anybody who ever crossed illegally is subject to deportation, even if they've never committed a crime since they got here. that would mean that people that are working in hotels, restaurants, construction sites and agriculture at fields all over this country are now subject to deportation. and those are the people that jose andreas and i think we need to protect. >> just so people have some context on who this guest is. this is a famous chef who had a restaurant in the trump hotel who got into a dispute with the
candidate. >> a lawsuit. >> a lawsuit after he made those comments when he announced his presidency, disparaging remarks about mexicans. let me ask you about decorum tonight. it's tradition to stand and applaud the president. do you plan to do that? do you expect there may be a joe wilson "you lie" moment? this is certainly a first. >> i intend to respect the decorum of tonight's event. you know, this is my fifth -- it's not a state of the union, we're in the joint session of congress, but these things you have to just wait to see what happens. but i, myself, intend to respect the decorum of the house of representatives. >> i'm only asking this because the word decorum has come up. you rather famously made a suggestion to then candidate trump about the wall he wants to build. you suggest that he shove that wall somewhere.
so, congressman, at this point in terms of battling that legislatively, how is that effort going? >> well, i strongly feel that the president's promise to build a 2,000-mile wall along the u.s./mexico border is a really bad idea. there are members of his own party who agree with me. there are some monies that are left -- the department of homeland security has discretion to spend and we're waiting to see what they might do with it. they don't have to go to congress for those things. they're talking about strategic fencing and things like that. i still think that's a bad idea. when you have an ally like mexico, who is our third largest trading partner, our second largest export market that weship the be building walls along our border. we should be building bridges. and with today's technology, there are many other things we can do to ensure that people do not cross illegally. that are a lot more cost
effective and much more efficient. i just think the wall sends a really bad signal. >> let me get your take on how the president graded himself. he gets an "a" on a number of things like what he's accomplished so far but a mediocre "c," c-plus on his messaging. he said he may be able to get that grade up with how he messages tonight at this address to congress. how do you -- do you agree with him on that grading that he can do a better job messaging and, if so, how could he do better tonight? >> well, i think through the campaign and for the first month of his presidency, the president's rhetoric has been very divisive. and i think to the extent that he himself understands that, you know, if what we're talking about is kind of a resetting of the rhetoric and attempt for there to be dialogue to completely reshift some of these
horrible deportation policies, to reshift this rhetoric with respect to the country of mexico, you know, i think if we can reshift that rhetoric that then maybe there are things we can do together moving forward. but for now, you know, we just have to see. it's difficult to tell what we're going to expect tonight. >> congressman vela, thank you for being with us. and a little bit of news from the congressman now, who he is going to bring, jose andreas, to the speech. that will be interesting to see, to say the least. take a look at this. we have wilbur ross, the commerce secretary, being sworn in by the vice president, mike pence, just moments ago in washington. another key member of the president's cabinet making it through the senate confirmation process. we'll be right back. my advice for looking younger, longer? get your beauty sleep. and use aveeno® absolutely ageless® night cream with active naturals® blackberry complex.
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a new battle blueprint for how to defeat isis in less than a year. this is something the president called on from his generals. some of the options on the table, sending u.s. artillery into syria, putting u.s. spotters on the front lines there. this also comes at president trump gets ready to sell his budget proposal to congress. that includes a big boost in military spending and some painful cuts to the state department. >> today more than 120 retired military leaders are pushing back against those cuts. they sent a letter to lawmakers and the white house writing, the state department and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to putting our men and women in harm's way. mattis once warned against state department cuts back in 2013. >> if you don't fund the state department fully, then i need to buy more ammunition ultimately. so it's a cost benefit ratio.
the more that we put into the state department's diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget if we deal with the outcome of an apparent american withdrawal from the international scene. with us, cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr. and senior international correspondent arwa damon who spent a lot of time there watching this fight against isis. barbara, let me begin with you. walk us through some of the options because today is day 30, right, when the president said have me a plan, a new plan to defeat isis? what are the options that you're hearing he likes most and that the generals think is most realistic? >> well, where we are right now is they had an initial meeting at the white house yesterday. these are not yet quite options. think of them more at preliminary ideas. that blueprint notion that you were talking about. the pentagon, other agencies putting forth some of their
ideas about how you could meet the president's requirement to accelerate the fight against isis. under a framework of trying to defeat isis within a year or less. but not just a military defeat. using that diplomacy from the state department, using financial measures, possibly from the treasury department to also defeat isis. the ideas of putting artillery units on the ground, more spotters on the ground, very costly. it comes with some risk. the president would have to be willing to accept that. it would accelerate the fight but the underlying theme here is it isn't the total solution. there has to be that broader approach because if there was that military silver bullet, literally, that would defeat isis, it would already be in play and commanders would tell you it's much more complex than that. >> arwa damon, you have been on the front lines.
so what would make a difference in that military battle. and to barbara's point if you expand beyond that in fighting against the idea, what would be helpful there? >> well, there's one thing also to take into consideration as we're discussing all of this. the battlefields in iraq and syria when it comes to fighting isis specifically are very different. and iraq, yes, the iraqi military does want to see more u.s. support, but they are getting quite a bit of it, and it is making a difference. those coalition air strikes, the u.s. advisers are one of the key factors that allowed the iraqis to move to the point they're at right now where they're trying to push through western mosul. in syria those dynamics are different because there isn't necessarily one reliable entity the u.s. would be able to partner with the same way they are in iraq and to go to that point of what happens after isis is militarily defeated because we've seen all this before. we have seen extremist terrorist organizations in iraq,
militarily defeated only to a few years later regroup, come back stronger, more capable and better equipped than their previous incarnations were. that's the cycle that needs to be broken and that's the cycle all the generals know cannot be broken with bombs alone. there has to be the follow-on stage that's going to involve politics. that's going to involve money. so that is really what needs to be focused on, as much if not more than the military aspect of all this. >> barbara, you are so well sourced in the pentagon. just a reaction to and the content of this letter from 120 generals, including general petraeus who we know is close to the president. what do you make of them saying, look, don't be so quick to make a major cut to state department funding because that hampers us in the overall fight. >> well, i think this is a very longstanding view for many years now in the fight against
terrorism. terrorist entities don't really go away just because you put a bunch of tanks on the battlefield or lunch a bunch of air strikes. any military commander will tell you it's going to take more than that. you heard general mattis back when he was on active duty just a moment ago say this very thing. if he doesn't have a state department, he has to buy more bullets. what you are really talking about in this letter is the notion, i think, that things like the state department, agencies like usaid, the agency for international development, even the peace corps. u.s. embassies around the world. their essential function to some extent is conflict prevention because diplomacy is talking about to foreign governments. diplomacy is about being there in places like afghanistan. having a presence that is n
nonmilitary, nonthreatening and maybe able to work with local governments, local people for the very ultimate goal of conflict prevention so the u.s. military doesn't have to go there. >> barbara starr at the pentagon and arwa damon, thank you both very much. still to come for us, an unbelievably troubling story. a group of african-american children terrorized at a birthday party. now the couple responsible found guilty learns their fate. that's next. what are you doing? getting your quarter back. fountains don't earn interest, david. you know i work at ally. i was being romantic. you know what i find romantic? a robust annual percentage yield that's what i find romantic. this is literally throwing your money away. i think it's over there. that way? yeah, a little further up. what year was that quarter? what year is that one? '98 that's the one. you got it! nothing stops us from doing right by our customers. ally. do it right. let's get out of that water. of bad breath germs% ally. do it right.
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cones when this happened. you can see this convoy driving past. >> you see some confederate flags on some of those trucks. they were shouting racial slurs at these children. at one point one of the men got his shotgun out and threatened to kill partygoers. they've just been sentenced, this couple. nick valencia joins us with more. unbelievable. >> what makes this all the more sickening, it seems to have been inspired by dylann roof, the white supremacist who shot and killed nine churchgoers at a church in charleston. in that shooting, roof used the confederate flag as a symbol for his racism and it seemed the couple in this incident did the same. july of 2015 the couple gathered with 13 other friends and put a convoy together and put confederate flags. they wanted to make a symbol, a statement about the confederate battle flag. that's when they showed up at an 8-year-old's birthday party, afan caf
an african-american child. during the hearing, they were charged with this heinous act. they sobbed during the hearing and right before the sentencing they spoke to the court. >> i want you to know that was not me. that is not me. that is not him. i would never walk up to you and say those words to you. >> this day affected my life and it affected my children's lives. i forgive you. i forgive all of you. >> for his part in the threat, jose torres was given 20 years with 13 to serve in prison. that's the individual on the left there. on the right, his girlfriend, the mother of his three children, was given 15 years and six to serve in prison. each got one year longer than the state recommended. it was also during this hearing, guys, interesting to point out, that the judge took the
opportunity to also chastise the douglasville police department where this incident occurred saying they didn't do enough on the day that happened. neither torres nor norton were arrested that day. douglasville police department releasing a statement on monday afternoon saying that they didn't want to take -- they didn't want to jeopardize the investigation so they wanted to take their time with the investigation which is why no arrests were made. but this couple certainly looking at a long time in prison for what they did. poppy, john? >> thank you. obviously our thoughts are with the family that was terrorized at that child's birthday party. thanks, nick. a new wave of threats against jewish centers across the country. according to new numbers into cnn this morning, 31 bomb threats were made to jewish community centers and day schools monday in 16 states. so far this year, there have been 100 incidents reported. 81 locations across the united states and canada. >> tonight, a crucial moment for the president. his first address to a joint
session of congress. we hear it's going to be optimistic about what's ahead for this country. will it be talk of a shining city on a hill? i don't know. we'll have reagan's former speechwriter joining us. just like the marines did. at one point, i did change to a different company with car insurance, and i was not happy with the customer service. we have switched back over and we feel like we're back home now. the process through usaa is so effortless, that you feel like you're a part of the family. i love that i can pass the membership to my children, and that they can be protected. we're the williams family, and we're usaa members for life. call usaa today to talk about your insurance needs. my advice for looking get your beauty sleep. and use aveeno® absolutely ageless® night cream with active naturals® blackberry complex. younger looking skin can start today. absolutely ageless® from aveeno®.
in tonight's address in front of a joint session of congress, the white house is promising that president trump will deliver a bold, optimistic vision for the future of this country. >> will he deliver on that promise? should he? what does he need to say tonight before congress and the american people? joining us is clark judge, a speechwriter for president ronald reagan. now the founder and managing director of the white house
writers group. thanks for being with us. i want to play you before we begin to talk about the speech tonight something the president said this morning about his own communication so far from the white house. listen to this. >> now in terms of achievement, i think i'd give myself an "a" because i think i've done great things but i don't think i've -- i and my people, i don't think we've explained it well enough to the american public. i think i get an "a" in terms of what i've done but in terms of message, i'd give myself a "c" or c-plus. >> how are you going to change that? >> maybe i change it during the speech. >> so a c-plus in terms of messaging and communication. this is your field, sir. do you think that's a fair grade? >> it's pretty fair grade. maybe a little low, but pretty fair grade. his question -- what he said about not explaining the reasons, the thinking, they were very focused on getting points on the board. the executive orders,
overturning past executive orders. some of them worked. some of them didn't. but now they are going to congress. he's had, i'd say, a kind of shock and awe first month which has got the attention of a lot of people. now he goes to congress. he's got to work with congress. as i read this morning's statement, he's going to say -- he's saying basically the time when he can just do it on his own, which was put nominations and the sort up is passed. he now has to work with congress on developing a program. >> so in order to work with congress and not infuriate congress, even some in his own party, should this speech tonight as the lead editorial in "the wall street journal" put it, be free of any
miller/bannon-esque moments? should he stay away from that? >> no, he shouldn't step away from everything he's done but he needs to, and he was saying this morning on the other network that he needs to move the tone more towards pulling together on common areas. that's what legislation is about. he's made some good steps, by the way, behind the scenes. he's had people, staff over to the white house, a bowling party, that sort of thing. the sort of -- the sort of social get together that we can do and pay the price for. >> there has been outreach behind the scene for capitol hill. has there been outreach to the rest of the country, the people that did not vote for donald trump? how does he do that? >> well, the biggest thing you can do is get the economy rolling again. get up to three -- plus 3%
growth. that means jobs for people. it means jobs for all people. it means getting a sort of spirit going again in the country. that's his first task. he's made a good start going after the regulations. he'll make another start tonight with the tax program. that's his big, big task. and if he does that, he'll have a lot of the country behind him. much more. >> you make an interesting point saying presidents are judged in two ways on these speeches. they are judged in terms of the public perception, what the american people get out of it, and how congress takes it. and you said president obama was somewhat of a failure on both fronts. what's the page that this president can take from that? >> well, a big part of it is that you've got to spend time with congress.
every successful president deal with congress has spent a lot of time. harry truman used to go up to the capitol hill and play cards with them. ronald reagan had beers with tip o'neil and drinks on friday, many fridays. so you have got to -- it's not magic. you've got to work at it and you've got to work at it day after day. it's -- theodore roosevelt said that the biggest task of the presidency is to get along with congress. and that means with specific people, the leaders, the rank and file. you've got to work at it. he's doing it, by the way. trump is making -- president trump has made a start at that. he doesn't have that receptive an audience in the democrats, but that's part of being president. the opposition is always going to be unhappy with you up to a point. >> a lot of people say they've never seen the country as
divided as it is right now. do you think that's a fair assessment of the country? >> no, no, no. we had lots of -- president reagan came in with large majorities, which is somewhat different than this, but we had a congress, particularly on the other side in the other part that was very -- the party was divided. so it looked like we were pulling a lot of democrats in, but, in fact, a lot of those people ultimately left the democratic party. those who remain aren't that different from the democrats today. more extreme. more ideological. less inclined to compromise, but that's part of the game. you've got to deal with them. >> it is indeed. clark judge, nice to have you on. we'll watch, assess and monday morning quarterback tomorrow. tonight the president will hold his first address before joint session of congress.
you'll see it right here on cnn. our special coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern tonight. so glad you're with us. see you here tomorrow. >> i'm john berman. "at this hour with kate bolduan" starts right now. thanks, john. thanks, poppy. i am kate bolduan. nine hours and counting to president trump's first address before a joint session of congress. we've says this before, but this time we really, really mean it. this is the biggest day yet in donald trump's presidency. the white house says the president will lay out a bold first year agenda in his primetime address. he'll strike an optimistic tone, and will outline specifics on everything from military spending to immigration and the fate of obamacare. so how has he been doing so far? president trump himself this morning gave himself mixed reviews. st